Things to do, eat, and see in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood

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Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood is a nature lover’s paradise. The area is home to a sprawling chain of green spaces, with the historic Garfield Park Conservatory as its centerpiece. A visit to the neighborhood isn’t complete without time spent outdoors, but there’s more to do and see outside the park as well.

Start your day in at the stunning Garfield Fieldhouse in the neighborhood’s namesake park. The eye-catching structure is built in an ornate Spanish Baroque style and topped off with a massive gold dome. Step inside to see the dramatic two-story rotunda, complete with a colorful patterned terrazzo floor and marble-lined walls.

Snap some photos of the Fieldhouse then spend time exploring the park grounds, which includes lagoons, tennis courts, soccer fields, a playground, a swimming pool, and a flower garden.

Next, take the short walk to the Garfield Park Conservatory, a stunning glass structure that’s more than 100 years old. Outside, you’ll find intricate gardens and gorgeous views of the conservatory itself. Inside, you’ll discover rooms overflowing with plants, flowers, and trees from all over the world.

The conservatory is free, with donations encouraged. Wander between the themed rooms, with spaces dedicated to palms, ferns, desert cacti, succulents, and more. Make sure to check the events calendar — the space hosts beer tastings, yoga, coffee pop-ups, talks, and flower shows throughout the year. 

Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory; photo by Adam Alexander

Once you’ve got your fill of exotic flora, pick a nearby spot to fill up on lunch. 

  • If you’re looking to have a picnic in the park, grab some takeout from Mr. E Chef’s Barbecue. Don’t miss the crispy catfish nuggets or the hand-breaded chicken wings.
  • Try a classic Chicago-style hot dog at The Original Maxwell Street.
  • On weekends, non-profit Inspiration Kitchens serves hearty meals with a Southern twist, while helping train Chicagoans for careers in food service. 

In the afternoon, stop by 345 Art Gallery. The space showcases an array of works by local artists, Chicago Public School students, and beyond. Check their calendar for cool events throughout the month, like guest speakers, family-friendly events, paint and sip workshops, performances by local students, and live R&B music on Sundays.

Nearby, Firebird Community Arts offers classes, private lessons, and workshops in ceramics and glassblowing. The center’s mission is to use the healing nature of these art forms to support those dealing with trauma.

And if you’re an architecture buff, you can’t leave the neighborhood without taking a peek inside Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, one of the city’s grandest churches known for its soaring interior, and New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, with unique stained glass windows that depict powerful reminders of the struggles of the African American community, from the slave trade through present day.

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